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You are passionate about teaching and working with languages but you never studied linguistics or translation or another language-related subject at university. Perhaps you work as a nurse, a lawyer, a secretary or a supermarket cashier. Perhaps you’re not that young anymore and are wondering whether a career change is an option. And whether teaching online without formal qualifications is possible at all.

Comparing yourself with others

Perhaps you already had a look at some of the well-known online teaching platforms such as italki and considered registering as a teacher.

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If you want to teach online, you can choose among several platforms, create your profile and start teaching. That’s exactly what I did when I registered at italki 4 years ago. It enabled me to quit my job and live location-independently – all without my own website. However, having my own website was on my mind for all those years. Not everyone needs their own website, of course.

You don’t need your own website when ….
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I still remember how nervous I was when I got started on italki four years ago and received my first requests for trial lessons. What would I do? Which kind of questions should I ask? Would the prospective student like me? Would he or she book regular sessions? Now, after about 280 trial lessons and almost 5,000 regular lessons, I’m much more relaxed and would like to share some of my learnings with you.

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How do you manage your time as a teacher? Is your schedule constantly changing or do you have steady working hours? Do you adapt to your students’ needs or do you have a fixed schedule? What happens when you’re on holiday or have an appointment?

Set your schedule

On your italki calendar, you have the possibility to set a standard weekly schedule. This repeats every week, so you have to do it just once.

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Some time ago there was a discussion on italki about monolingual language teachers. I remember that my first thought was: “Doesn’t exist”. However, then I checked some teacher profiles and discovered that there are indeed ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers who don’t speak a foreign language. I also found some Spanish teachers who – according to their profile – speak only very basic English. The majority of teachers or tutors who teach other languages seem to speak at least English as a foreign language.

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As language teachers we’re normally happy when a potential student comes along or when a student indicates that he would like to continue having lessons with you. When you’re new to teaching, saying “no” to a student probably won’t occur to you. Most of us still have this image of a classroom situation in our minds where neither the teacher nor the student has a choice. They just have to get along with each other.

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Since I discovered italki in Summer 2012, I’ve had more than 750 lessons with about 50 teachers who helped me with English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Polish and Hungarian. I had numerous sessions with some of them and only a few with all the others. In some cases this was due to the fact that I stopped studying a particular language. However, in other cases the teachers acted in ways I simply disliked.

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